Georgia GOP Senators and Gubernatorial candidates propose legislation to prohibit undocumented students from registering in state higher education facilities altogether -- whether or not they pay in-state or out-of-state tuition.
14 GOP state senators wrote a letter to the Board of Regents last Wednesday claiming that persons not lawfully in the country are not eligible to attend taxpayer supported colleges and universities in Georgia, regardless of their tuition rates. Their claim is that out-of-state tuition does not cover the full costs of a student's education at a public university, so even for those who pay those higher fees, their attendance would still be subsidized by taxpayers.
Gubernatorial candidates Eric Johnson, Nathan Deal, John Oxendine and Karen Handel confirmed through their spokespersons that they support this action.
At least one milder view was presented by David Poythress, another candidate, who said that illegal immigrants should not receive in-state tuition, but that the Board of Regents should not enforce federal immigration laws like any other private industry.
The entire debate exploded after the Jessica Colotl story (the girl found in Kennesaw state driving without legal status), and the anti-immigrationists are just taking it too far.
While I do agree that the first spots at any college or university should go to U.S. citizens or legal residents, there are simply not enough of them to fill all the slots in these universities. Doing so would just lower the admission standards to state universities and colleges and they should not do it in order to maintain their good educational levels. Alternatively, enrollment would be much less - and would be adversely affected even with the increase to out-of-state costs which will present a price-prohibitive barrier for many.
In addition, even illegal residents pay state taxes such as property taxes, sales taxes, etc., so they contribute to the tax base in the state. Do these people think it would be better for these students to be out on the streets, getting into the job market or gravitating towards criminal activity instead of educating themselves? We have enough uneducated citizens here in Georgia, and anyone who wants to go to college has a much greater potential to contribute to the state, not diminishing from it.